By Ferdinand Patinio, February 23, 2024; Philippine News Agency

MANILA – The Philippines became the first country in Asia and the 38th in the world to ratify Convention No. 190 aimed at curbing violence and harassment in workplaces, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Friday.

This came after Manila deposited the instrument of ratification of the convention to the ILO on Feb. 20.

In a statement, the ILO said Convention No. 190 is the first international labor standard to address violence and harassment in the world of work comprehensively.

It also introduces the first globally recognized definition of workplace violence and harassment, offering protection to all individuals in the workforce, including interns, apprentices, and those with employer duties or authority.

This protection extends across various sectors, including public and private, formal and informal economies, and urban and rural areas.

During the ceremony held at the ILO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary for Labor Relations, Policy and International Affairs Cluster Benedicto Ernesto Bitonio Jr. said Manila recognizes the institutionalization of the “right to a world of work free from violence and harassment” as stipulated in the convention.

“Convention 190 breaks new ground in the boldness of its scope and ambition. Where it speaks of a “right in the world of work,” it transcends the traditional boundaries of physical spaces, territory, and geography, of formal and informal work arrangements, of urban and rural communities, of corporate halls and households,” he said.

He also said the convention calls upon nations to agree on a “baseline of acceptable behavior that respects every worker equally as a human being who has full freedom to choose and pursue the things that society values whatever [their] status, capabilities and sector are”.

ILO Deputy Director General Celeste Drake, meanwhile, lauded the Philippines’ move to ratify the accord.

“This ratification marks an important step to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. It is time to make workplaces free from violence and harassment a reality everywhere, promoting and realizing social justice for all,” she said.

The convention also mandates member states to adopt, in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, inclusive, gender-responsive strategies for preventing and eradicating workplace violence and harassment.

This approach includes prevention, protection, and enforcement measures, as well as remedies, guidance, training, and awareness-raising initiatives.

Acknowledging the distinct roles of governments, employers, workers, and their organizations, the convention emphasizes the importance of social dialogue and tripartism in implementing these measures at the national level.

To date, the Philippines has ratified 39 ILO conventions, 31 of which are currently in force. (PNA)